No Dog Left Behind: It’s Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week

Less-adoptable dogs deserve homes just as much as "perfect" ones.


Are you the type of person who digs a challenge, and jumps at the opportunity to rise to it? Then this week’s Petfinder promotion, an annual event, has your name all over it. It’s Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week.

Anybody can adopt a perfect purebred pooch who elicits oohs and aahs from every visitor to the animal shelter. That’s a no-brainer. But it takes a special adopter to appreciate the inner beauty of the shy black dog who sits unnoticed in her kennel because her dusky coat makes her hard to see in low light, or the sweet, gray-muzzled senior who stalwartly watches a parade of people turning away because, well, who wants an old dog anyway? (That, dear readers, was rhetorical for effect — old friends really are the best friends, as my sweet Sheba showed me day after day in her 16th year.)

Pit Bulls sometimes account for as much as 90 percent of an animal shelter’s dog population — and because so many people fear them, they are among the least adoptable, despite being the sweetest of sweethearts. Documentary filmmaker Jeff Theman adopted a dog with two strikes against him: Preston the black Pit Bull, star of Theman’s forthcoming documentary Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent.

Now picture a dog with three strikes against him: A senior black Pit Bull. Please consider a dog who answers to that description, because you will truly be making a difference. My beloved black Pit Bull, Sam, changed my life immediately upon entering it, so in his honor I will always reach out a helping paw to the dogs like him first.

Meanwhile, it takes someone special to see past an easily correctable condition such as demodectic mange, which is not — I repeat not — contagious. Too many potential adopters reject dogs with mange, when it’s easily cured with good nutrition and TLC (not to mention regular baths with neem shampoo). I myself have treated many, many dogs with mange. And trust me, the “after” photos of these extreme makeovers were so worth the effort, not to mention the sweet smile of gratitude and relief on the cured canine’s face.

And it takes a really big heart to open up to a special-needs pup with a deadline on her head, like sweet Izzy, who is partially blind.

Her “disability” doesn’t slow her down or detract from her cuteness quotient — and a volunteer transporter stands ready to bring her from California to your door, wherever you may be!

Sometimes, a special-needs pet has a unique advantage — a deaf dog, for instance, is far less likely to bark at unexplained loud noises or commotion that may occur outside your front door, which is a wonderful trait for a city-dwelling apartment dog to have.

Meanwhile, in my hometown of New York City, the wonderful nonprofit Adopt NY is doing dog’s work to get less-adoptables into furever homes. Just the other day this great group succeeded in sending home a lovely Pit Bull mix who’d been patiently awaiting adoption for five years. Way to go!

Now through Sunday, September 23, Petfinder is spotlighting the deserving dogs (and underhyped pets of all species) who have the hardest time finding furever homes. And this year, there’s a record number of eligible less-adoptable pups ready and waiting to bring beauty, joy, and unconditional love to your life.

To put a number on it, there are some 1,000 less-adoptables, all proudly nominated by the shelters where they currently reside. Without a hand from break-the-mold individualists like you, these animals are likely to spend nearly four times longer than the average pet waiting for a home. Some wait as long as two years! That’s hard to imagine, but believe it or not, those are the lucky ones; at open-admission shelters, especially crowded urban ones, less-adoptable dogs often don’t even get 48 hours to live.

So if you’re in the market for a new best friend, please consider one from Petfinder’s event. As someone who makes a point of adopting the less-adoptables, I can honestly say you’ll be so glad you did.

And if you do or did decide to adopt a less-adoptable, please spread the love — and motivate your fellow readers — by proclaiming pride in the comments!

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